MANCHESTER — He just won the state title. Somebody give this man a bowl of popcorn.
When asked how he’d celebrate Londonderry’s Division 1 girls basketball title, coach John Fagula, who retired after the game, said, “I’ll tell you quite honestly, if the popcorn stand wasn’t closed I’d probably get a couple of bags of popcorn.”
Second-seeded Londonderry earned a 57-56 victory over previously-unbeaten Bedford, the No. 1 seed, to secure the championship here at Southern New Hampshire University last night.
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Fearless junior Brittany Roche, a 6-0 forward, converted a wide open 3-pointer along the baseline with 12.3 seconds left to break a 54-54 tie. Bedford missed two 3-pointers in the final 10 seconds and the game ended on a meaningless Bulldogs layup at the buzzer.
Roche converted the same 3-point shot from the corner to give the Lancers a one-point edge with 2 minutes left in the semifinals against Pinkerton on Thursday.
Of any spot in 3-point range, Roche feels most comfortable taking her shot from the corner.
Jackie Luckhardt drove base line toward the hoop and found Roche there alone.
“There was no one guarding me so why not shoot it?” Roche said.
Fagula’s stellar career ended in the best way possible. He won 11 Class L titles with Nashua and coach five nationally ranked teams. His 1987 Purple Panther squad won the USA Today national title. But those teams were loaded with Division 1 talent unlike the teams he has had at Londonderry. So one could argue this might be his sweetest victory of all.
“The best part about it for me is that I don’t have to think about ‘What ifs?’” Fagula said. “That’s the kind of thing that’s frustrating when you get close and you don’t win it.”
Fagula has had multiple “What if?” nights in recent history. Londonderry lost by just three points to Bishop Guertin in the 2012 final. The Lancers also dropped the 2011 state title game to Winnacunnet.